Cait is smart, funny, kind and just wants to be like other 14 year olds; hanging out with friends, shopping in the city and generally being independent... but because she has multiple chronic illnesses, she spends every day isolated and alone. She is unable to attend school and so, has lost the friends she had. Her chronic illnesses (ME, POTS, hypermobility and Coeliac Disease) cause her to be in constant pain and she faces multiple partial dislocations a day. She is also part way through a diagnosis of Autism which means that on the rare occasion she is able to go out, she can struggle. Places that most people think nothing of visiting, can cause Cait to experience sensory overload. Due to her chronic illnesses, she has to attend many hospital appointments but she struggles in a hospital environment. It’s bright and noisy which can cause her to go into sensory overload and due to medical trauma, she now has a fear of doctors.
An assistance dog would give Cait a level of independence. Every day tasks, such as just getting dressed, would become easier. The tasks which a dog would do for her would help to reduce her pain levels, the number of partial dislocations she experiences and her fatigue. A dog would also help her with her autistic traits, helping to prevent meltdowns and reducing sensory overload. A dog would also act as a social buffer, helping Cait to make friends, something she really struggles with.
An assistance dog would change Cait’s life, but unfortunately, Cait does not qualify for any of the assistance dog programmes in the UK, due to either being too old, too young or living in the wrong part of the country! So, we are having to look at going it alone and dogs don’t come cheap. (A fully trained dog can cost anywhere from £10,000 - £20,000, sometimes even more.) Thanks to Covid-19 and the trend in 'pandemic puppies', we have been unable to source a suitable and affordable puppy to self train. We are now looking into sourcing a part-trained dog, which is even more costly than a puppy. A part-trained dog would come already trained to a high level of obedience, therefore cutting down the time it takes to fully train in assistance tasks.
We realise that there are many worthy causes out there and things are tight for many families in the current climate, and so we thought long and hard about doing this. However, we would incredibly grateful for any donations as every little helps. We just want Cait to be able to experience some aspects of teenage life and have hope of returning to education. Thank you.